Sometimes I am shut up in my apartment for days on end. I spend hours editing photos, researching scholarships and internships and just taking some down time. If I get the photography itch during these periods, I wander around my apartment taking micro photos of anything and everything. The above is a photo of a paper towel and one of my living room rugs. I always learn so much from these shoots, about my camera settings, about light, about pattern, shape and perspective. Taking the vision down to a micro level also expands my small apartment view and I feel less disconnected from the greater world. I go from being the smallest thing in the here and now to the largest. When I look at the world in micro vision a whole new world of photography opens up and I could literally spend weeks just taking photos in my apartment. Think about it…water drops, rugs, pillows, walls, wood flooring, quilts, paper towel…
My twenty year old son, mom and I took a road trip to Reno this past weekend to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I did most of the driving and as always I passed photo after photo opportunity. I always notice the most photo ops while I am behind the wheel of the car. You know that perfect light meets matter moment and you catch it as you are whizzing by at 65 miles per hour. Or the tractor is plowing across the field, leaving a cloud of dust behind and the sun is situated at just the right angle…these moments kill me as I fly by…missed shots that I silently mourn as I keep on keeping on. Sometimes I call them out to my son hoping that at least someone can capture them but once called out the moment has passed and the shot isn’t THE ONE. I entertained the idea of having someone drive me around for a “driving photo shoot” just so I could see how many shots I could capture that I feel I miss while driving. The one I am still mourning from our trip to Reno is the “ghost diner” along hwy 39 in Cali. It was complete with old neon sign, frosty cones and whispers of teens gone by pulled up outside. I may have to drive this route again just to shoot that one. Happy drive-by shootings!
I began writing today with the thought “I need to post to my blog.” The recent over haul of my blog into a joint photography portfolio and blog has left my blog entries in archives. This archiving of blogs really is representative of a larger shift of focus in my life. While travel remains at the very top of my list of priorities, photography which has been on the sidelines lately but still present has crept up to the top of the list.
Photography has always been life enhancing for me. It has been a running dialogue in my life since I was nine years old. I remember sitting behind gram’s easy chair next to the bookshelf that was stuck in the corner, studying Margaret Bourke-White’s photo book. I didn’t know it then but a photographer was born. At age twelve I was given my first camera, a vivitar that my gram no longer needed. I took it to outdoor school and had the best photo shoot I may ever have.
Taking photos is a deeply personal way for me to reflect on a transient world. It is a narrative of my life and what I want to remember. When I was young I took photos to capture happy times and things that I did not want to forget. Now I take photos to tell my story and relate to how stories connect us all. The connections are where we live. I want to narrate connections in my photos.
As my life has shifted from needing to record events to wanting to create a story…the same shift has happened in my life at several levels. I need less than I ever thought I would and I want more than I ever thought I would. It is all good. *happy sigh*
Carnival Victory docked at Grand Turk
I did it! I went completely solo on a cruise to the Bahamas. Carnival is the only cruise line that I know of that has lifted the solo supplement charge on select solo cruises. I paid what every other passenger paid and had a stateroom to myself. Smart move Carnival! I learned that I am courageous, still 20 something in some ways and am a lot of fun to be alone with. I began my journey on a very early flight to Ft. Lauderdale from PDX where I did not have to go through normal security but went through a short version where I did not remove my shoes or anything from my person or my bags and just walked through a detector and my bags went through a belt. Great start!
Upon arrival in FLL I called my hotel, Rodeway Inn and Suites and a shuttle was on its way. Florida in May is humid and hot. The hot was not so bad but the humidity was an adjustment. Rodeway Inn is a quaint little hotel with a very 50’s vibe about it. The hotel lobby has a little store where you can buy anything you forgot and more. Behind the lobby desk is a huge selection of wine, liquor and cigarettes. The staff are wonderful and very friendly. They have a restaurant on site with an outdoor patio that shares the same common area as the pool complete with sandbox and meandering paths through palm trees. Along those paths are some wooden props with face cutouts for fun photo ops. Music is piped out over the enclosed area and it has a celebratory party beach vibe. I was upgraded to the jacuzzi suite! The room was fabulous and the decor had been updated to the current decade. The bed was huge with really nice linens and right next to it was a huge jacuzzi. There was a small kitchen area that was bigger than the one I had in Italy. It had a microwave and refrigerator.
After I turned on the air conditioning, I decided to wander down to the lobby for some wine and food. I asked at the desk for some delivery menus and after hearing the wait time would be over 2 hours for any food in the area I opted for a frozen pizza that they sell right there. A small bottle of Barefoot Moscato and my 4 cheese pizza in my room watching my flat screen television. I took a soak in the jacuzzi and the bubbles massaged all the travel soreness out of my body, the wine out of my spirit. Then I hit the bed. Slept soundly with no issues. Never tried out the shower that was gorgeous with a glass enclosed stone shower and huge rain shower head. But I assured them at the desk, I would be back! I want to try out the restaurant, pool and party area.
Bright and early my shuttle service called to let me know they would be picking me up 30 minutes prior to the scheduled time and I jumped into fast mode. SAS Shuttle service provides shuttle service throughout the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area and specialize in hotel/airport to cruise terminal Miami/Fort Lauderdale service all for $15 one way. Really nice comfortable vans with air conditioning. I did find out while waiting for my shuttle in front of the hotel that the hotel also provided shuttle service to Miami cruise port and it is probably the same price. Next time I will use the hotel shuttle for all transportation. The hotel provides free shuttle from airport to hotel and charges $5 for service to FLL cruise port. Still a great convenience and price.
3,000 people through security checks and check in can take awhile. I am not usually one of the passengers that is ready to embark first. The cabins are not ready until after 1:30pm and so if you embark before that time you are required to wait on ship. Most passengers go to the buffet to eat and drink and listen to the music by the pool area. I hardly ever go to the buffet on embarkation day but this time I missed breakfast due to the shuttle coming early. So I headed up to the buffet and got some food. The buffet food is not bad but it is not good either. It does the job of taking away hunger and that is about all. It may be a different experience for people who eat meat but for vegetarians the options are limited and never seem to be very satisfying. The salad bar is good but only offers iceberg lettuce and that is the one lettuce I just don’t care for. I had some roasted potatoes, potato salad, green salad and pasta salad. That is pretty representative of what the buffet has for vegetarians; a bunch of carbs and salad. I also avoid the buffet during the cruise because the food safety is a concern with me in the temperatures that the food sits at. The issue is that the buffet is near open doors to the pool area and in the humidity and heat it seems dangerous to me. I also observed flies landing on food and the kitchen staff ignoring it. Thousands of people eat at the buffet on a cruise and that is too many people hovering over my food choices.
After eating my buffet surprise lunch I headed out to photograph the ship. This is the best time to get shots of the ship without any people in them. No one is out looking at the ship. It is a strange thing but seriously you will see no one in any area but the pool and buffet.
The Carnival Victory is a beautiful ship with a nautical theme, mermaids can be found everywhere and blue and green glass. I have never sailed on a ship this big and I think I prefer it to the smaller ships. I thought it would be crowded with too many people on bigger ship but it was the opposite and there was plenty of space and even small areas with no people at all. The Victory’s capacity is 2,754 passengers with 1100 crew and is 893 ft in length. There are two main dining rooms; the atlantic and the pacific. The dining room is two decks high and can be accessed on two decks. One main stage area that is three decks high. It has a disco for late night dancing open until the wee hours of the morning. A piano bar, a karaoke bar, a comedy club (George Lopez’s The Punchliner), a full casino with stage area, an Irish pub (serves pub food) a coffee cafe, a library, an art gallery and more. The Victory is a nice ship. I felt very comfortable with the size and the options of entertainment.
I ate in the dining room every night. I chose “Your Time” dining which is dining in the Atlantic dining room anytime between 5:45-9:30pm. I like the flexibility of dining when I am hungry and working it around the events of the evening. I also wanted to take advantage of being able to dress for dinner every evening and boy did I ! I wore dresses to dinner every night.
The rest of the time I ate room service meals. Every Carnival ship has 24 hr room service. The menu is limited to sandwiches, salads, chips and desserts but it was enough for me. You also have the option of placing a breakfast order form outside your stateroom door for a delivery of continental breakfast to your stateroom. I did that several mornings as well. I only wandered up to the buffet once on the cruise and it was on a port day when I decided to stay on ship and I knew there were not many people on board so decided to try out the 24 hr pizzeria and it was delicious.
My cruise was a six day cruise and it was enough time to develop a routine. I went ashore on one port day, Grand Turk. The other two port days I stayed on ship and lounged in my stateroom or wandered about the ship. There are activities for those who stay on ship but I didn’t do any. It was fun to just do what I wanted when I wanted to. About 5 or 6pm I would begin getting dressed for the evening. I would go to the early show; either comedy or main show and then eat dinner about 8 or 9pm. After dinner I would go to the piano bar to listen and sing along to songs. As for drinking; I brought onboard a bottle of wine. Each person is allowed to bring onboard ship one bottle of wine in their carry on luggage. That bottle lasted a couple nights in to the cruise. I kept it in my stateroom and poured me a glass and took it with me to the show and in to dinner. If I finished it at dinner then I ordered a glass at dinner and took it to the piano bar with me. You can take your drinks anywhere on ship with you. The wine was not expensive, it ranged from $5.50 – $9.00 a glass or you could buy a bottle and the head waiter in your dining room would store it for you to drink with your dinners. I am not the drinker that I was in my early years. I mostly drink wine with dinner and while watching the show or listening to music. I probably only spent $60 total on wine for the entire cruise.
The entertainment onboard the Victory is top notch. Outstanding entertainers and they work very hard at their jobs. In fact the entire crew onboard the Victory work very hard to make sure you have an outstanding vacation. Which leads me to tipping. The cruise line automatically charges the tips for the entire cruise at the end to your onboard account. It works out to be about $11 USD per day. Now these can be adjusted if you feel you have had poor service or want to increase it as well. I feel this is pitifully low for the level of service that you receive. Remember that bar service always adds 15% to your purchase ticket each time you order drinks so no need tipping above that unless you feel generous. I tipped the entertainer Rob in the piano bar as he did a fantastic job and I appreciated his talent.
This entry is long and there is more to tell…so I will save some for the next entry. Cruising remains one of my favorite ways to see the world. Carnival Cruise line does a fantastic job.
I am going on a week long cruise next week and it will be my first solo excursion in many, many years. I am excited about the new discoveries and freedom that come with being alone. It will definitely be a new experience for me. A cruise ship is hardly alone but for those that know what being a loner is like…one can be totally alone in the midst of a crowd of people. I plan to make some new friends, visit the ship library, lay on a lounge chair and read, go to the beach in port and lay in the sun sipping a tropical fruit drink, visit museums, photograph everything and just do what I want to do, when I want to do it. This actually may be the first vacation that is truly a resting vacation for me.
I work really hard at many things and now I get to put it all away for a week and think about things I want to think about, the color of the sand, the settings on my camera, dining room or buffet, and things that normally fall by the wayside when traveling with other people. Not that I won’t miss them, I will. My kids are wonderful traveling companions and we will have many more travels together.
I just applied for an internship with the U.S. Department of State. This is something I have thought about doing for a while now. The hours upon hours of research that I have done on art conservation/preservation located in Europe keeps bringing me back to government organizations. Both the European government and our government are the leaders in art conservation/preservation efforts. I have also been doing some soul searching about what motivates me and keeps me going …it is service to something greater than myself that contributes to a better world and continual learning. I plan to continue my education overseas and if I can work in the capacity of civil service for the U.S. then even better. If it is meant to be…it will be. But now that the application is completed and submitted, it is time for vacation!!!!
The experts say it takes as long as you were gone studying to go through the stages of reverse culture shock upon returning to your home country. That is about right. So my absence has been an adjustment period for me and I think it took a little extra time to adjust to a new city upon return. Chad and I moved into a new apartment in a new city or rather in my old hometown where I grew up and lived for most of my life. In the meantime, throughout all of this adjustment I managed to continue my classes at PSU. The first term after my return from Italy I took all classes online and then the current term on campus. Life events seem to be changing so fast. This term I find myself a senior and facing the end of my sojourn through an Art History B.A. and it seems it just began! My plan is to continue my education in art history, classical studies, conservation/preservation or some such Masters degree. I am looking at programs in Europe, probably Eastern Europe if all goes according to plan. I would love to study Balkan art history in depth and formulate my thesis on that area of art. I am moved by the history of Romania, Bulgaria and Greece. So many ancient layers of art history moved through there over the periods and so much to discover and preserve.
I am itching to travel again and while I feel weary of travel in general and am burrowing in to my new place to feel rooted somewhere, I can already feel the urge to go out and seek again. I don’t know if this ever goes away. This need to find new places out there in the world and inside myself. New sights, smells, tastes and feeling the edge so close that balance becomes mindful. It really is an addiction. I am going to the Bahamas in a few weeks to spend some time on my own, reading, writing, soaking up the sun and while there of course visiting the art museums and cultural museums to get a taste of Bahamian roots. Photos will come! I have a brand new Pentax just waiting to be explored and this trip will be it’s maiden voyage.
I am enjoying the smallness of my life right now because I know from experience that it can change and become huge in a split second. I cherish time spent with my granddaughter and her wonder over how the light turns on and off. Her joy in discovery reminds me of how miraculous the tiny things really are. We flip a switch and have energy, water, TV, music, transportation…illumination.
As we move into 2014 I am thinking back over the last year and what a year it has been. So many changes at a fundamental level for me. Friendships have been redefined, my body has become a healthy dwelling place, my mind has relaxed into a state of grace and really life has become closer to being what feeds my soul and gives meaning to the words, ” live with intention.” Italy was one of the defining periods of my life over the last year, Italy opened me up and breathed it’s sweet wine into my spirit. My thankfulness is overflowing for that experience and as I have only left Italy 2 weeks ago…I am still processing what took place and how the levels that living as an Italian were transformed within me. I know that seeing my mom standing in the airport waiting for us was one of the best sights ever and being a part of all of the love and support from family and friends has been the highlight of this journey. True friends, the ones that support you even if they don’t agree with you or think your ideas are crazy and family that understands you and supports your dreams and even encourages you to follow them are what it is all about. These people are why I went to Italy and they are why I came home to live near them. As I think more about connections, support, community and where my energy flows I wish all of those that I call friend a wonderful new year and I look forward to being your friend in 2014 and supporting each other in all we endeavor.
I am half way through my term studying in Italy. It is hard to believe but it is true. I look at my calendar and cannot believe I only have a little over five weeks and I will be back home. Here is a collection of little “notices” about life here…
Italians walk looking straight ahead, not to the side or down at the ground as one would think they would with the beautiful sights and uneven cobble stones. I have learned through my daily walks to school and home that it is because one gets extremely dizzy and loses balance if line of sight is not steady. This applies to the greater picture as well.
I get up everyday looking forward to my day and the experiences that it will bring. Yes, I am tired, sore, cold, hungry and have too little time to accomplish all I need to do BUT I know I will see great art, have a cappucino break several times, stop and talk to my friends and colleagues, learn amazing things and eat tasty well prepared food. This makes it all worth it. It is balanced. When Italians get tired they stop and rest, when they are hungry they stop and eat and when they need a little shot of divinity it is around every single corner.
I will miss “my hill” and our daily time together. It gives me health, a fabulous view and solitude in which to meditate.
A walk home is never just a walk home…it is smiles to passing people, a stop at the art store to buy a paint brush, a stop at the corner market for wine, pausing in the doorway of the upholstery shop to watch the man bent over his work and listen to his classical music, deep inhalations when passing leather stores with their doors open and lit up display windows full of every color of leather purses imaginable, a stop for gelato…I could take hours to get home here.
Life is very different here, not better or worse just different and I love the rhythm, smell, taste and feel of it all. Italian life revolves around a social structure not economic or political…at least at the street level and daily existence. This from the perspective of one who has only been here for a few weeks and barely brushed the surface. I know that family is the core of existence here and it shows.
Our class is in Venice for the Biennale. A bi-annual art exhibition that encompasses the entire city. Most of it is located in the Arsenale and the Giardini and countries vie for the best position in the exhibition. People come from all over the world to attend and tomorrow we get to go see it! Chad has come along and we just spent a wonderful afternoon taking a tour of Venice with a tour guide and sitting in a cafe having aperitifs. Chad is out with the classmates and I am snuggled up in bed watching TV, drinking wine and surfing the web. More on the Biennale tomorrow after we visit for the first day. Here are photos from the tour today. Enjoy!
Venice is breathtaking!
Piazza San Marco
The chandelier in our hotel room
Chad and I walked all over Siena today for five hours…it was a wonderful way to spend the day. There was a football (soccer) game going on in the stadium and so many people were out and about. The Fortress was a really nice place and I will work up the courage to take the escalators straight down to the shopping mall at the train station before we leave but not just yet. Enjoy the photos!
Chad spends quite a bit of money here at this video store!
porcupine contrada…my school director’s contrada
Enotecca which is winery and this is one our class is visiting soon.
Rhoda, our landlady’s house…ours is on the right, just past the garbage bins.